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Local church offers foster children security through handmade quilts
quilters pic
Quilt volunteers Sandy Mann, Jean White, Sharon Gensen, Barbara Aschwanden, Sandy Dinatale and Soni Hill, and Dankia Mann (front) show off their hard work with Aspiranet representative Kathy Helfrich. - photo by BROOKE BORBA / The Journal

For 13 years, The Good Shepherd Lutheran Church has continually offered their consoling services by presenting quilts to those in need. Sandy Mann, a member of the church, said her fellow Lutherans have made quilts for several organizations within the community, including nursing homes and pregnancy centers.

Their efforts this time, however, were primarily focused towards the local Aspiranet foster care agency.

“It’s unfair for the kids to move around so much,” Mann sadly stated. “When (the children) are removed or welcomed to Aspiranet, we make sure they get a quilt. You know, something stable they can take with them always.”

Jean White, one of the volunteers, has had a personal experience with adoption. She often thought of her adopted sister, now deceased, while assembling the quilts, and talked about visiting adoption centers when she was 8 years old. Though shelters and foster agencies have changed greatly over time, White said, the children’s insecurity remains.

 “We just want to do things that are beneficial,” she said a little tearfully, recalling her past. “They so want a family—and they think it’s their fault. At least they can carry (quilts) with them and build from it.”

Though a disturbing topic for some, the volunteers’ spirits did not completely deter from happiness. Their infectious laughter and enjoyable camaraderie made the event a complete success. Despite there being only six women present, and one representative of Aspiranet, many sacks were fully stuffed with finished products, while many more patches were waiting to be sewn together. The women confirmed that the squares of the quilts were previously sewn by the children of La Grange Elementary before the school closed down this year. Though the women lament the loss of the children’s inclusion in the program, they are hopeful to gain more volunteers for the future to make a bigger impact on the community.

“We’ll take anybody,” Mann laughed. “There are plenty of tasks.”

Despite their lack of assistance, they were in no shortage of square patches this year. However, the little squares that the La Grange students had crafted were vastly different in color and correlation. The volunteers had purposely sewn together contrasting patterns, causing these colorful quilts to pop with vibrancy.

Mann recalled her granddaughter’s previous concerns about the mismatching patches, stating “they don’t even match.” With a laugh, Mann had replied, “It doesn’t matter. It’s about security.”

The symbolic meaning of the quilts proclaimed a bolder statement than their color arrangement; the quilts, as well as foster parents, are not concerned with matching children aesthetically in regards to outer appearances, but providing support and a binding love that is patched together with genuine sincerity. According to these women, the outer appearance of the quilt was not nearly as significant as the devotion derived by the quilts connotation.